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  • Archive for January 10th, 2008

    福藤選手、ファイト!

    Posted by simon c on 2008 January 10日 Thursday

    頑張れ!という意味も込めてですが、元コクドで去年は日本人初のNHL選手としてプレーした福藤選手が、先日のECHL の試合で多分人生初のホッケーファイト (動画) をしました。両チームの氷上全選手での乱闘だったので、福藤選手には選択肢がありませんでしたね(笑)

    最初はやっぱりファイト慣れしてないので劣勢でしたが、最後に右の一発を食らわせて相手をテイクダウンして、終わったら観客にガッツポーズ見せる余裕(ファンサービス精神旺盛)までありました (^^

    日本代表時代の福藤選手

    Posted in 01_日本語, Asia League Ice Hockey, ECHL, hockey, information, NHL, opinion | Tagged: , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

    Fukufuji in a goalie fight!

    Posted by simon c on 2008 January 10日 Thursday

    Former Asia Leaguer with Kokudo, and the first Japanese born and trained NHL player (though he was called up by the Kings last season because LaBarbera who dominated the AHL would not have cleared waivers under the new CBA when getting called back up) Yutaka Fukufuji got into a goalie fight (probably had no choice what with everyone on the ice going at it) in an ECHL game where he plays for the Bakersfield Condors. He seemed to have fared poorly, not being used to hockey fights at all. But upon closer inspection, he does land the final right and takes down the other goalie. He also hams it up for the crowd for good measure :-)
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1cWFmiu0fKk

    Yutaka Fukufuji in a Kings game last season

    Posted in 02_English, Asia League Ice Hockey, ECHL, hockey, NHL, opinion | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

    王貞治とハンク・アーロン

    Posted by simon c on 2008 January 10日 Thursday

    まずは王さんのホームラン集動画、昔のカメラアングルは見にくいですね。長嶋さんはもちろん超一流なんだけど、やっぱり(国籍絡みの思春期も性格に影響したのか?)ストイックな世界の王さんですね、世界の野球ファンから尊敬されているのは。

    王さん

    そして疑惑無し(笑)のホームラン王ハンク・アーロンとのホームラン競争の映像。アーロンがいかにも楽に打ってるように見えますね。王さんの通産本塁打868本は、王さんの現役時代の球場と相手投手のレベルを考慮すると、メジャーでは527本換算になるそうです。これは堂々と米国野球殿堂入りできる本数です。(当時のセリーグとメジャーのレベルの比較は、60-80年に両リーグを行き来した66選手の成績を比較して行ったそうです、完璧な手法ではありませんが、日米で良く見られるありがちな主張「プロ野球はメジャーと同レベル」や「日本なんてAAレベル」よりはかなり正確です。ソース:Jim Albright さんの研究結果(英語)

    Oh and Aaron

    現在の日米球場比較は後ほど…

    Posted in 01_日本語, baseball, MLB, NPB, opinion | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

    Sadaharu Oh and Hank Aaron

    Posted by simon c on 2008 January 10日 Thursday

    Japan’s homerun king Sadaharu Oh’s milestone homeruns on YouTube. The early Japanese camera angles make it difficult to see his funky stance and step in the batter’s box until near the end of the clip when we reach more modern times.

    Sadaharu Oh’s batting form

    Oh vs Hammerin’ Hank homerun derby highlights. Aaron won it 4-2, Hank makes ‘em look easier. Oh translates to a 500+ HR hitter in the majors when taking league competition and park effects into account. A Hall of Fame calibre career in any league.

    Hank Aaron and Oh Sadaharu

    Posted in 02_English, baseball, MLB, NPB, opinion | Tagged: , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

    Japanese ballparks are bandboxes, truth or myth?

    Posted by simon c on 2008 January 10日 Thursday

    Japanese ballparks are often accused of being tiny bandboxes where routine outfield fly balls slapped by weak hitters turn into homeruns. Is this actually true, or is this just an outdated myth similar to “Tokyo/Japan is expensive” (it’s not, especially now with the weak yen, tax inclusive pricing, various deregulations that brought down tariffs and prices, and the no tipping culture.)

    Let’s take a look at actual ballpark dimensions because otherwise they’re just mere speculations and anecdotes.

    NPB Stadiums

    2007                  
     

    Field Dimensions (feet)

    Wall Height (feet)

     

    Franchise

    City

    Stadium

    Year

    LF

    CF

    RF

    LF

    CF

    RF

    Surface

    BayStars

    Yokohama

    Yokohama Stadium

    1978

    308.4

    387.1

    308.4

    16.4

    16.4

    16.4

    Turf

    Carp

    Hiroshima

    Hiroshima Municipal Stadium

    1957

    299.9

    379.9

    299.9

    10.5

    10.5

    10.5

    Grass/Dirt

    Dragons

    Nagoya

    Nagoya Dome

    1997

    328.1

    400.3

    328.1

    15.7

    15.7

    15.7

    Turf

    Giants

    Tokyo

    Tokyo Dome

    1988

    328.1

    400.3

    328.1

    13.1

    13.1

    13.1

    Turf

    Swallows

    Tokyo

    Meiji Jingu Stadium

    1926

    298.6

    393.7

    298.6

    11.5

    11.5

    11.5

    Turf

    Tigers

    Osaka

    Hanshin Koshien Stadium

    1924

    315.0

    393.7

    315.0

    10.5

    10.5

    10.5

    Grass/Dirt

    Buffaloes

    Osaka

    Osaka Dome

    1997

    328.1

    400.3

    328.1

    13.8

    13.8

    13.8

    Turf

    Eagles

    Sendai

    Miyagi Baseball Stadium

    1950

    333.0

    400.3

    333.0

    13.1

    5.9

    13.1

    Turf

    Fighters

    Hokkaido

    Sapporo Dome

    2001

    328.1

    400.3

    328.1

    18.9

    18.9

    18.9

    Turf

    Hawks

    Fukuoka

    Fukuoka Dome

    1993

    328.1

    400.3

    328.1

    19.2

    19.2

    19.2

    Turf

    Lions

    Saitama

    Seibu Dome

    1979

    328.1

    400.3

    328.1

    14.3

    10.5

    14.3

    Turf

    Marines

    Chiba

    Chiba Marine Stadium

    1990

    326.4

    400.3

    326.4

    13.1

    13.1

    13.1

    Turf

       

    NPB Average (feet)

    1973

    320.8

    396.4

    320.8

    14.2

    13.3

    14.2

    Mostly turf

       

    NPB Average (metres)

    97.8

    120.8

    97.8

    4.3

    4.0

    4.3

    Mostly turf

       

    CL Average (feet)

    1962

    313.0

    392.5

    313.0

    13.0

    13.0

    13.0

    Mostly turf

       

    CL Average (metres)

    95.4

    119.6

    95.4

    3.9

    3.9

    3.9

    Mostly turf

       

    PL Average (feet)

    1985

    328.6

    400.3

    328.6

    15.4

    13.6

    15.4

    All turf

       

    PL Average (metres)

    100.2

    122.0

    100.2

    4.7

    4.1

    4.7

    All turf

       

    MLB Average (feet)

    1986

    331.7

    405.4

    329.1

    10.4

    8.9

    10.9

    Mostly grass

       

    MLB Average (metres)

    101.1

    123.6

    100.3

    3.2

    2.7

    3.3

    Mostly grass

    I tacked the MLB averages onto the bottom of the chart for the sake of comparison. Yes, I know MLB stadiums have tons of wonky dimensions, but this makes it interesting nonetheless.

    There’s some interesting stuff here:

    • Central League teams play in older and smaller ballparks, while Pacific League teams play in modern stadiums (unfortunately they’re mostly multipurpose domes in the vein of Metrodome and SkyDome), Seibu added a roof and pushed back the outfield walls to its current dimensions a few years back. Swallows’ Jingu stadium is undergoing renovations this offseason where LF/RF walls will be pushed back to 101m (331’) and wall height will be raised to 4.5m (14.9’), turning it into a more conventional stadium from a hitters’ paradise.

    • PL stadiums have almost the same dimensions as an average MLB stadium, but with higher walls. So, this makes PL as a whole more pitcher friendly, as many potential homeruns are turned into doubles. Combining this with the Japanese style of small ball (utilizing bunts, steals, and hit and runs to get that first run on the board to put pressure on the opposition, instead of waiting for the 3 run homer and big innings that is more popular in the majors), the lowest scoring team in the PL won the pennant and the playoffs. That team is the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters (often mistakenly shortened as the Ham Fighters but “Nippon Ham” is the sponsor and “Fighters” is the team name) which was led by the now-KC manager Trey Hillman who embraced the Japanese style of play and often won low scoring 1 run games like 1-0, 2-1, and 3-2 thanks to his superior pitchers led by the 21 year old man-child Darvish Yu whose father is Iranian. I still think that OBP is an underrated skill amongst NPB management, so if some manager in a hitter friendly park can collect moneyball type players of its first incarnation (good plate discipline and power), then his team can have some success at the plate for bargain prices.

     

    • CL parks, on the other hand, are very friendly to hitters. Especially old Jingu and Hiroshima stadiums with short porches and low walls. Outfield flies that should turn into outs elsewhere in Japan (and in the majors) can become homeruns here. I can’t remember how the Rays’ Akinori Iwamura hit majority of his homeruns (even though I’m a Swallows fan) but this partially explains his significant power drop off when he went to the majors. But this makes the new Dodgers starter Hiroki Kuroda’s record even more impressive, as he had to contend with the fences being so close behind him. Yokohama is also hitter friendly with its cozy confines and minimal foul territory (see below).

     

    • On the whole, NPB stadiums are boring when compared to their MLB counterparts. Almost all stadiums built or renovated within the last 20 years feature 100m (328’) LF/RF and 122m (400’) CF walls and artificial turf. On top of that all stadiums are perfectly symmetrical. Japan missed the boat on the HOF type quirky modern retro ballparks. But then again NPB has nowhere near the financial clout of MLB to get fancy new baseball only stadiums (with retractable roofs and natural grass) built for them with mostly municipal tax payer money. Apparently the near 20’ wall of Fukuoka Dome is called the “Japanese Green Monster” sometimes, but I’ve never heard this reference before reading it on Wikipedia. Older ballparks that were used before the current ones built or renovated within the last 20 years were smaller bandboxes like Jingu and Hiroshima today, so that is where the reputation comes from, I’d reckon. Homerun king Sadaharu Oh’s 868 career homeruns while playing home games in the smaller Korakuen Stadium (Giants’ and Fighters’ home before Tokyo Dome) are equivalent to 527 MLB homeruns according to this great analysis by Jim Albright.

     

    • There are nice fairly modern outdoor stadiums with natural grass and large enough capacity in Japan. But unfortunately they’ve either been vacated like the Kobe stadium (BlueWave’s former home before they merged with the Buffaloes and gradually moved all games to the Osaka Dome), or have been built in rural locations and are only used by the NPB in neutral site barnstorming games every year (Botchan Stadium in Matsuyama on the relatively sparsely populated Shikoku island, and Sun Marine Stadium in Miyazaki on the southern island of Kyushu where the Giants hold spring training camps).

     

    • Unfortunately, the proliferation of domed stadiums in NPB means that most playing surfaces are artificial turf, with Hiroshima and Tiger’s Koshien stadiums being the only exceptions out of the 12, whereas there are only 3 artificial turf fields out of 30 MLB stadiums. These two stadiums feature something interesting that is not seen in North American pro level diamonds, completely dirt infields. Here’s what Koshien looks like during one of its national highschool championship tournaments (which culturally similar to March Madness):

    Koshien Stadium during a national highschool championship tournament

     

    These are drawings of NPB fields to give you an idea of their outfield size, gaps and foul territories.

    Drawings of NPB fields

    Foul territory sizes range from big in Sapporo Dome to tiny in Yokohama Stadium. Tokyo Dome’s gaps are not rounded like other stadiums, so that makes it easier to hit homeruns to left centre and right centre gaps.

    Since I haven’t actually done any park factor calculations and whatnot, this is all for now.

    So, there are bandbox stadiums in the CL, but there is no such thing in the PL where parks are modern with MLB dimensions but have higher walls. Interesting factors to consider when translating NPB player performances into MLB equivalencies (there are 24 interleague games each season now, 2 games each home and away, so PL teams get to play a few games in those small CL parks.)

    It would also be interesting to compare this against Korean and Taiwanese stadiums.

    Posted in baseball, information, MLB, NPB, opinion, statistics | Tagged: , , , , , , | 6 Comments »

     
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